Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico
Costa Rica, January 27-29
The Prelate arrived in San José on January 27. At the Miravalles University Center several families were waiting to welcome him.
In one of the get-togethers with members and friends of Opus Dei, he spoke about the need to never be afraid of God and to speak to him like a friend. “Sacred Scripture often tells us not to fear God, and to realize we are always accompanied by him. Saint Josemaria said that a person who fears does not yet know how to love. Let us not be afraid if he asks us for more than we want to give.”
On Monday January 28th, Msgr. Ocáriz held several catechetical meetings in which he stressed, among other things, the importance of joy: “God wants us to be happy, and that our joy may be full; this is achieved by his grace and help. To be happy, we need a heart in love with God and he will give us the strength to love everyone: our family, friends and peers.”
Answering the question of a mother about the role of the family, the Prelate said: “You yourself have realized that the greatest thing that we can do is to make Christ known, get to know him and bring him everywhere in response to everything that he has given us, especially in our own family.”
He also stressed the great value of fraternity in families and among friends: “To be a friend, a spouse or a mother requires a spiritual effort. To understand those who are at our side, we should first try to see the good and positive things in them, the best side of each one. We are all worth a lot and so there is no room for distinctions; the differences we see should lead us to love and appreciate each other more.”
Responding to a question about how to talk to young newlyweds about persevering in their marriage, he said that “when a marriage breaks up quickly, it’s because there is a lack of love. Love is not the initial excitement, which is passing; love is to want the good of another person. We should teach young people what love is.”
On the 29th, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz took part in a discussion with university students and young professionals at the Miravalles University Center. He suggested that those present “give thanks to God for the Christian formation you receive, knowing that our formation never ends. The goal of this formation is to identify ourselves with Christ and we should receive it with an active attitude, so that we can come to have the same sentiments as Christ.”
The Prelate reminded them to keep praying for Pope Francis. “Pray also for those who are suffering hardships all over the world. This reality should lead us to treat others better and to live fraternity well, in our own family and with our friends.”
One of those present asked how to discover the beauty of the virtue of purity. “Sex is not something dark,” the Prelate replied. “But since it is such a great and noble reality, its corruption is even worse. If instead, we struggle to live this gift in an ordered way, we are filled with joy, and are able to be concerned about others. We all have to struggle, without getting discouraged. It will be like that right to the end of our life.”
When someone asked about how to live one’s vocation with love, he relpied: “We all have a vocation. Our Lord is concerned about everyone. God has a plan for everyone. It doesn’t depend on enthusiasm; we shouldn’t confuse sureness in our vocation with enthusiasm. It is the response to God’s call.”
Other questions raised included how to better protect the dignity of women in a society where they are not sufficiently respected and how to include care for creation in our path to holiness.
Msgr. Ocáriz also met with some women who attend the activities of formation offered by Opus Dei. The Prelate spoke to them about the importance of “facing all the situations in our life, joys and sorrows, in the same way that Jesus would have done.”
A young woman studying preschool education asked about the use of social media. “You can have a very positive presence there. At the same time, it requires a lot of self-control to not devote more time than is necessary to it.”
One of those present, who came from Guatemala, asked about how to trust God’s will when it is not easy to accept. “God has a plan for each one that can be difficult for us to understand, because our Lord permits setbacks and failures. Saint Josemaria, who suffered a lot, taught us that we may cry or have trouble understanding things, but that we should not give in to sadness. If we have faith, we believe in the great love that God has for us. God wants us to be saints, which doesn’t mean being perfect. He loves us with our defects, but always struggling to be better.”
Another young woman studying at the university said that she took part in WYD in Panama and that it impressed her to see so many young people from different parts of the world who love the Church. “This should help us,” Msgr. Ocáriz said, “to see in the others the love that God has for each one. We should try to see them with His eyes. Sometimes this can be a bit complicated, but it can be achieved by asking God for the charity we need to treat every person well.”
The Prelate also reminded them that when they are with people who don’t share our faith, we first have to love them and think that God wants to reach them through us, “not because we are better but because we have received more from God. We should pray for people who are far from him.”
Nicaragua, January 30th
The Prelate arrived in Nicaragua early in the morning, for two catechetical get-togethers in Managua, in La Rivera and Villa Fontana cultural centers.
In the get-together with women faithful and cooperators of Opus Dei, he stressed that “our faith and love for God should fill us with security, hope and joy, and that when suffering comes—small or big setbacks—we should unite ourselves to Christ’s Cross. Any situation, when offered to our Lord, is taken on by Jesus as his own and he gives it immense value.”
One of the women who helped begin the educational center in Diriamba told the Pprelate that they had been working there for 19 years now. The Prelate encouraged them to continue offering human and Christian formation to many women, “because everything that is done for God is effective. He takes into account our difficulties and the fruit often comes without our realizing it.” One of the young women studying in that center said that she was helped to discover God there, since she wasn’t practicing any religion at the time. On 26 May 2018, when Nicaragua was undergoing a serious political crisis, she was baptized, and her life was filled with a new hope.
When asked if a mother of a family can discover her vocation among her many daily chores, Msgr. Ocáriz replied: “Certainly it’s possible. God is the one who gives a vocation and for him nothing is impossible. As Saint Josemaria used to say, God is especially interested in people who have a lot to do and don’t have time, since they are dedicated people who give themselves to others.”
At the end, the Prelate assured them that he prays daily for their country, so that the people come closer to God and desire peace.
In the second get-together, Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz invited the people there “to never lose their joy and hope. Saint Josemaria used to say that to be happy what we need is not a comfortable life, but a heart in love. A heart in love is the source of hope.”
When considering the broad horizons for the work of evangelization needed in Nicaragua, he said that “it might seem that we are few for so much that needs to be done. But God’s strength is greater. May all the work that needs to be done and all the peace that needs to be sown lead you to pray more, to forgive more.”
In this regard, someone asked the Prelate how to forgive others when it is difficult to do so. “By having the same sentiments as Christ Jesus for other people. In times that were also difficult, Saint Josemaria prayed: ‘May I see with your eyes, my Christ.’ You can always find the strength you need to forgive in the Eucharist.”
Puerto Rico, January 31 - February 3
The Prelate of Opus Dei arrived in San Juan on January 31st. The first catechetical get-together was held at the Monteclaro Hospitality School, with young women who are studying and training there. Recalling the recent World Youth Day in Panama, he said that “a good resolution for any young person who had the opportunity to be there is to pray a lot for the Pope.”
On Friday, February 1, after celebrating Holy Mass at the Monteclaro School, Msgr. Ocáriz went to San Juan, where he greeted a group of families. Later, in the atrium of the Puertorreal School, he met with priests and seminarians from various dioceses.
One of those present asked how to overcome moments of tiredness and discouragement. “We mustn’t confuse joy with enthusiasm,” he said. “We need to strive to deepen our relationship with Christ.” He concluded by reminding them of the need to seek many vocations for the priesthood.
In the late afternoon, about a hundred young people met with the Prelate. One of the fellows asked how we can know what God wants from us: “what God wants from us is first of all that we do what we have to do; that is, that we fufill our duties.” He encouraged them to have a schedule so they could live order better: “if you have a plan of life, you’ll have more strength, serenity and joy.”
On Saturday, February 2, feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the Prelate celebrated Mass in the oratory of the Paloblanco conference center. He made reference to some words of Simeon in the Gospel reading: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation.” We too need to have the desire to see God: “to see him in the Eucharist, to see him in daily circumstances, to see him in the people around us… Thus we will place Christ at the summit of human activities.”
At 11.30 am, in the conference center of Puerto Rico, he met with women of the Prelature and their friends. They told him that it was the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the apostolic work in Puerto Rico, and they asked him what he would like from them. “The important thing is what God wants from us, and what he wants is that we be faithful to our own vocation.”
At the end of the afternoon, in another catechetical meeting, Msgr. Ocáriz spoke about the opportunity to find God’s will also in moments of difficult, pain and illness: “faith is needed for what we don’t understand or see. And nevertheless, there too we find God’s love.”
One of those present, who along with others is is trying to bring forward two schools, the Sonsoles and Summit Academies, asked for advice on how to overcome all the challenges. Msgr. Ocáriz said that “the first means is to have faith.” Then, that we shouldn’t become discouraged if some people respond negatively when asked to help out in these initiatives. He said jokingly: “if they don’t want to help, they are the ones who lose out.”
Between get-togethers, Msgr. Ocáriz had the opportunity to greet several families who expressed their gratitude for the help they receive from the formation and spiritual activities offered by the Prelature’s centers.
On February 3, his last day in Puerto Rico, the Prelate celebrated Mass in Monteclaro. In his homily, he spoke about the serenity that comes from knowing that we are a child of God. Afterwards, he met with the benefactors and directive boards of various initiatives. He thanked them for all their efforts, and then some of them recounted anecdotes about the struggle to recover from Hurricane Maria on the island.
When imparting his blessing he said that “we are never separate from one another because Christ himself unites us.” As he left Paloblanco, he went past a group of teachers, students and families wearing straw hats and playing maracas.
Romana, n. 68, January-June 2019, p. 73-78.